Being an inquisitive sort, Dan Riehl went looking for other instances where the White House may have been interfering with the Inspectors General, and lo! – he found some. Two more, both of which are involved executive branch officials allegedly interfering with investigations and one of which involved a sudden Walpin-like abrupt termination.
The second example (Gerald Walpin being, of course, the first) was Neil Barofsky, TARP IG, and while it’s the less immediately worrisome of the two newly-publicized incidents it’s also the more sensitive. There aren’t many details on this available yet, but the dispute seems to be over how much oversight Treasury should have over the IGs assigned to monitor specific functions of the department – and how quickly and easily IGs should be given the documents that they need for their investigations. … Barofsky apparently hasn’t lost his job over this, though. Yet.
The third firing was of Judith Gwynn (often noted as Judith Gwynne, which should tell you how well regular journalism is covering this story), and it’s… very interesting, as well. She was an acting IG for the International Trade Commission (expect that to be brought up, usually with the table being pounded) who abruptly had her contract terminated right after Sen. Grassley’’s letter inquiring about an alleged physical assault* on her by an ITC staffer (expect that to be ignored for as long as possible) went to the White House.
So, what does the White House have to say about all this? Well, that’s the interesting part. Remember, this was supposed to be an administration that was transparent and would rid Washington of Bush’s cronyism and Republican corruption. But, when it comes to questions of their own cronyism and corruption, they simply refuse to answer the questions. Given the media’s tendency to take every word spewing out of his mouth as gospel (literally), they didn’t bat an eye, nor press the issue.
In fact, watching the media spin this one for their Obamessiah is very informative. The New York Times’ coverage, for example, is busted by Hot Air:
The New York Times finally got around to reporting that the White House fired Inspector General Gerald Walpin, a week after it happened, when the Associated Press — to which the Times belongs — first put in on the wires. They managed to include the Obama administration’s accusation of mental illness, and even threw in the part about Senators Claire McCaskill and Charles Grassley objecting to the firing. But what did Neil Lewis and the Times forget to include in the story? …
Lewis and the Times forgot to include in this entire article two very salient facts about Walpin’s termination:
- The law governing the IGs require the White House to not just provide reasonable cause, but also a 30-day notice to Congress before taking any action.
- Lewis neglects to mention anywhere in this article that the White House called Walpin first in an attempt to intimidate him into resigning.
Both of these points are key to understanding the abuse of power attempted by the White House with Walpin. The White House wanted Walpin out, as well as discredited, as quickly as possible so that he could not interfere with a sweetheart deal to let a political ally off the hook for fraud.
I suppose the NYT is simply taking its cue from the White House itself, which offered an astounding example of doublethink to explain Obama’s actions:
A top White House lawyer called the firing of AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin an act of “political courage,” according to House Republican aides who were in a meeting with the lawyer Wednesday.
Quin Hillyer explains that whopper:
I try really really hard to avoid the term “Orwellian,” but I can’t help it here: This is Orwellian word use on steroids to the googleplex degree. Byron York reports that the White House is calling the firing of AmeriCorps IG Gerald Walpin an act of “political courage.” When thuggery is called courage, when corruption is called integrity, when ignoring the spirit of the law is called judiciousness…. well, then, that’s when this firing becomes defensible. This is a sinister White House.
These people must, by all legal means, be stopped. Cold. They are dangerous.
Yes, they are. Just look at what they’ve accomplished in five months – a halving of the stock market and trillions in lost savings, drowing future generations in mountains of debt, virtually guaranteeing rampant inflation and high taxes, the thuggish seizing of private companies, promising further dependence upon foreign oil while working to ensure skyrocketing energy prices across the board, and flailing helplessly about as our enemies ratchet up their weapons systems. Just think what will happen if they get another 2, 4, or 8 years of power unchecked!
Perhaps the biggest irony at play here is that the law — the President must give 30 days notice and explain his reasoning — that Obama violated in these firings was co-sponsored by…Barack Obama. He’s breaking his own law. I think this must be one of those times when we see that liberals play by two sets of rules. Obama co-sponsored this legislation to keep George W. Bush honest, but now that this law is nagging at him, he disregards it.
In the end, I think this analysis is the root explanation:
The sudden push to rid the government of independent watchdogs appears to coincide with Barack Obama’s plans to use government spending to get control over more aspects of American life, such as with stimulus spending, the financial sector, and volunteer organizations…
As promised, this is Obama’s ‘re-making’ of America. How do you like it?
There’s my two cents.